By Jeremy Walsh
One of Long Island City’s busiest intersections is set for a major faceâˆ’lift this spring after Community Board 2 approved a plan to add pedestrian crosswalks and concrete islands to the Queens side of the Pulaski Bridge.
The plan would forbid right turns onto Jackson Avenue from the main bridge lanes, restrict turns to side lanes on 11th Street and install traffic islands for pedestrians at the middle of the base of the bridge and on Jackson Avenue on either side of the intersection.
“The neighborhood is changing,” said Maura McCarthy, borough commissioner for the city Department of Transportation, at a CB 2 meeting last Thursday. “You’ve got a lot more development, a lot more residents and, hopefully, a lot more walkers.”
The DOT plans to start work on the project in late April or early May and expects to finish in about a month. It aims to make safer the trip many pedestrians take from the B61 bus stop east of the bridge intersection to the No. 7 train’s Jackson Avenue station west of the bridge.
The plan will have an impact on the surrounding area. The DOT projected that the new traffic configuration would result in less congestion in the morning for drivers turning right from the bridge onto Jackson Avenue while creating more congestion for drivers entering the bridge from Jackson in the midday and evening.
It would also eliminate seven parking spaces on Jackson Avenue. The DOT is creating five new angled parking spaces on 49th Avenue to compensate, McCarthy said.
The plan did have its detractors. CB 2 member Al Volpe pointed out that figures compiled by the group Transportation Alternatives showed a total of five pedestrian accidents around the busy intersection between 1995 and 2005.
“Considering the tremendous amount of traffic going through there, the number of accidents is really miniscule,” he said. “We don’t need a change.”
“Given the number of turning vehicles, I think we’re just tempting fate,” McCarthy replied.
Joseph Conley, chairman of CB 2, said he had heard from many residents who were worried about the intersection.
“The request has come through [from residents] and the DOT has responded to that,” he said, praising the agency for its quick reaction.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by eâˆ’mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 154.